Little black dress = little black lifesaver
You might remember a few posts ago that I complained I was frustrated about what to wear in winter. It’s been taking me ages to get dressed in the morning as I agonise about outfits that aren’t warm enough, are cosy but will be sodden with sweat if I wear them for my hour’s walk to work, look stupid with sneakers that are my footwear of choice for said ambulatory commute, are too casual for the event I have to attend after work or have any other multitude of details wrong with them. Plus, I have to factor in my feet, which are like ice blocks, so I can’t get around in much less than boots and thick socks (or maybe chunky sandals and socks if I know I’m going to be inside all day. Certainly no cute little bare foot and toe-revealing numbers for me!). Deciding to address this dilemma once and for all one night last week, I hit upon the solution: a kaftan.
Or perhaps more accurately, I took inspiration from a kaftan. Using style number 1 from this pattern set but leaving the front open, I whipped up this little black number in no time at all.
The kaftan is a super simple garment to make anyway, but the process was a whole lot quicker because the fabric I used didn’t require hemming. It’s the same fabric as I used for this top (as in, probably some kind of upholstery fabric with a patterned coating on one side) – here’s a closer look at the material, with the smooth side on the left and the coated side on the right.
I chose to make the seams a design feature on the coated side. So I can wear the garment a number of ways – as a kind of semi-sleeved gilet with the front open and the smooth side out…
…or with the coated side showing instead (you can see the seams around the shoulder line and down the sides).
It can also be worn with either side facing out and the front closed, as a dress.
Somewhat ironically, the day after I’d made a garment for WINTER, the weather heated up again and I didn’t really need to rug up. Melbourne, hey? But luckily this is a piece that can be worn all year round, just by adding or subtracting layers, and its simple shape means it can be styled in so many different ways. I snapped a few variations on my balcony – I have only a tiny window of time in the afternoon between the sun being too strong and complete darkness, plus I had two friends’ 40th birthday parties this weekend, so apologies for the quality of the photos!
The fabric is quite sturdy and kind of sticks to itself, so none of the dress variations above require any kind of fastening, just some kind of tie around the waist to keep them secure. But of course brooches and pins could be used to hold the fronts together and add accents – and in that case, you wouldn’t need to wear a belt or sash.
It works well worn open over T-shirt and jeans/skirts combos too.
(The accessories in all the other styled shots are from op shops and markets as usual, but the bag in the photo above is a DIY (see here) as are the jeans (see here).
Once winter weather returns, I’ll be layering this little black number over tights, boots, long-sleeve T-shirts and jumpers and accessorising it in all kinds of ways – I realised after I made it that it has the same potential as this LBD from The Uniform Project so the styling possibilities are endless. It would actually be great made in a nice supple leather as there are minimal seams to add bulk and many leathers have an interesting texture on the “wrong” side. Something to try if I come across some leather at an op shop, perhaps? In the meantime, I have a feeling this little black dress? gilet? jacket? coat? will be a little black lifesaver, winter (and summer) wardrobe-wise.